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Saudi Arabia Decides Western Pilgrims Can No Longer Book Hajj Through Travel Agencies

Saudi Arabia’s Hajj Ministry has also not stated yet when exactly this lottery system will be in full operation but has urged all prospective pilgrims to “request refunds from tour operators/agents” who organize Hajj travel.

Saudi Arabia’s Hajj Ministry has also not stated yet when exactly this lottery system will be in full operation but has urged all prospective pilgrims to “request refunds from tour operators/agents” who organize Hajj travel.

In a shocking new decision, Saudi Arabia has introduced new regulations around Hajj, stating that Muslim pilgrims from Europe, the Americas, and Australia must now book their visit through the government website Motawif for an “automated lottery” draw.

Travel agencies that organize and book hajj groups in the West will now not be accepted, according to Saudi Arabia’s new rules, meaning that all pilgrims wishing to travel to Saudi Arabia for Hajj will have to see if they are accepted through the government’s lottery draw.

If accepted through the lottery, all pilgrims must then book their flights and hotels directly with the Saudi government – although the prices of these government issues packages have not yet been released.

Saudi Arabia’s Hajj Ministry has also not stated yet when exactly this lottery system will be in full operation but has urged all prospective pilgrims to “request refunds from tour operators/agents” who organize Hajj travel. In addition, it is as of yet unclear whether these new regulations will affect pilgrims for the current Hajj season – only a few weeks away.

Many Muslims in the West – both prospective pilgrims and travel agencies – have expressed shock and disappointment at these new regulations.

Yusuf, a Hajj travel agency director in London, expressed his confusion and disbelief to MME, calling it “mind-boggling”.

“We have been doing Umrah and Hajj for many years,” Yusuf explained, “and getting anything out of the ministry is very difficult, so how pilgrims are going to get what they need is mind-boggling.”

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